House May Pass Anti-‘Fairness Doctrine’ Legislation

By Alex Weprin 

House Speaker John Boehner says he and other Republicans plan on passing legislation meant to ensure that the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” will not be revived… this despite the fact that no one in a real position of power wants to revive it.

Broadcasting & Cable‘s John Eggerton explains:

Boehner said that for fans of the doctrine, “it’s fair to silence ideas and voices they don’t agree with, and use the tools of government to do it…Our new majority is committed to seeing that the government does not reinstate the fairness doctrine. Congressman [Greg] Walden has teamed up with another former broadcaster, Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, to introduce legislation to help keep the airwaves free. I expect the House to act on this measure.”

Of course, the doctrine was killed in 1987, and both President Obama and his FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski say they have no interest in reviving it.

Even a well-established critic of the current state of media and Fairness Doctrine proponent, FCC commissioner Michael Copps, agrees that the doctrine won’t be making a comeback. Rather, Copps has proposed a “Public Value Test” for broadcasters, to determine whether they provide enough content that is in the public interest.

Even if it were passed, the doctrine would not apply to cable news or the internet, as the FCC does not regulate content on those platforms, so outlets like Fox News and The Huffington Post would be free of any such regulation.